Sunday, February 5, 2017

Garlic Focaccia Knots






    Garlic Knots!
    Garlic Knots are a well known snack food item in big cities that have Italian communities.  In recent years, Italian Garlic Knots have become a trendy street food item.  Garlic Knots can now be found on the menu at bakeries, bars, casual restaurants and even food trucks.  Garlic Knots are fairly easy to make and they are a real crowd pleaser, especially when served during a Super Bowl party!  
     I made a small batch of Focaccia Bread and had some leftover dough, so I decided to make a few Garlic Knot examples.  Mini garlic knots are about 3" to 5" long and the dough portion size is 2 to 3 ounces, so a .  The knot shaping technique is easy to learn!  This recipe works best with focaccia dough that has risen twice and has been refrigerated till it becomes stiff.  The dough must be elastic, like pizza dough.

     Focaccia Dough:
     This recipe yields about 32 to 38 ounces of dough.  (Enough focaccia dough for 3 small 10" round focaccia or pizzas.  Because the amount of flour is a variable, the exact weight of the dough batch is also a variable.)  
     *Multiply the recipe by 5 to make 3 large size focaccia, like the ones in the photos.
     *High gluten flour is best for this recipe, but bread flour can be used.  All Purpose Flour will not produce a good focaccia texture.      
     *Focaccia style dough requires enrichment with fat.  Olive oil is a fat!  Oil strengthens and elongates the gluten strands of the dough.  It only takes a very small amount of oil to produce a nice texture.  The elastic gluten strands give focaccia pizza dough the ability to be stretched and tossed in the air!
     Step 1:  Add 2 tablespoons of fresh yeast or 1 tablespoon of dry yeast to 1 1/2 cups of lukewarm water in a steel gear driven 1 1/2 gallon minimum capacity mixer bowl.  (112º water)
     Place the mixing bowl in a warm place, like on top of a warm oven.
     Allow the yeast to activate.
     Step 2:  Add 2 teaspoons of sugar.
     Add 1 1/2 cups of high gluten flour.
     Add 2 teaspoons of sea salt.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil.
     Mix at low speed with a dough hook, till a very loose wet dough is formed.
     Turn off the mixer.
     Cover the bowl with a pastry towel.
     Let the wet sponge dough activate for about 20 minutes.
     Step 3:  Start adding a little bit of flour at a time,while mixing at low speed, till a pliable smooth dough is formed.  (About 2 1/2 to 3 cups of flour will be needed.  This step is always done by eye.)  
     Add a little flour at a time, while mixing, till the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl.
     Turn off the mixer.
     Step 4:  Cover the mixing bowl with a pastry towel.
     Set the mixer bowl on top of a warm oven, with a second towel underneath the bowl to protect the dough from too much heat.
     Step 5:  When the dough rises more than double, beat it down with your knuckles.
     Cover the dough with a towel and let it rise again.
     When it rises the second time, beat the dough down with your knuckles.
     Step 6:  Bench the dough on a floured counter top.
     Knead firmly for 1 minute.

     Scaling (Portioning): 
     Portioning can be done by eye, but weighing each dough portion produces the most consistent finished product.
    *The basic round shaped pizza or round shaped focaccia portion formula is 1 ounce of dough for every 1" of width.  Example:  For a 10" small round focaccia, about 10 ounces of dough will be needed.   
     Step 1:  Roll the dough into a large ball shape.
     Portioning options:  
     • Cut the dough ball in half for 2 large 16" to 18" round focaccia or pizza portions.
     • Cut the dough ball into thirds for 3 medium 10" to 12" round focaccia or pizza portions.
     • Cut the dough ball into fourths for 4 small 8" to 10" individual size focaccia bread or pizza portions.
     Step 2:  Roll and tuck each dough portion with your hands to make smooth dough balls.
     *The dough is easier to shape in the next step if it is chilled first.
     The dough portions can be refrigerated in sealed containers for up to 2 days or frozen for later use.

     Shaping Garlic Focaccia Knots:
     The focaccia dough must be patted out as a flatbread shape, before cutting it into strips for garlic knots.
     It is best to work with small 10 to 12 ounce portions of dough at a time, so the shallow container of olive oil can be kept small.  Less oil is needed this way.
     Garlic Knots can be tied in a wide variety of knot shapes.  A coiled simple knot will retain more garlic flavor than a simple twist knot, because there are more crevices that will retain the garlic oil.   
     Step 1:  Place a focaccia dough portion on a countertop or sheet pan that is lightly brushed with olive oil.
     Pat the dough out so it is a rectangle shape that is about 6" wide and about 1/2" thick.
     Cut 6" long strips of shaped dough that are about 3/4" wide.  (Each dough strip should weigh 2 to 3 ounces.)
     Step 2:  Place some olive oil in a shallow container that is wide enough to contain a few dough strips at a time.  The olive oil should be about 1" deep.
     Add enough finely chopped garlic to flavor the olive oil.  (About 2 tablespoons of chopped garlic per cup of olive oil is a good ratio.)
     Step 3:  Place the dough strips in the shallow container of garlic olive oil.
     Make sure the dough strips are covered with the garlic oil.
     Place the pan in a refrigerator for 1 hour, so the dough becomes firm and the garlic flavor penetrates the dough.
     Step 4:  Place the container of garlic oil dough strips on a countertop.
     Pick up 1 dough strip.
     Hold the dough strip between your thumb and the base of your first two fingers.
     Allow the dough to drape over the length of the first two fingers.
     Stretch and coil the dough that is draped over the fingers around itself, from the base of the fingers to the tip of the fingers.  A dough loop will form at the tip of the fingers.  Tuck the dough strip end through the loop to form a simple coiled knot.
     Slide your fingers out of the coiled dough to free the finished Garlic Knot.
     Step 5:  Dip the shaped Garlic Knot in the garlic oil.
     Place the Garlic Knot on parchment paper lined sheet pan.
     Space the dough knots about 3" apart.
     Step 6:  Repeat Step 4 and Step 5 till all the Garlic Knots are on the baking pan (or pans).
     Step 7:  Place the pan of Garlic Knots in a warm area.
     Allow the dough to rise and proof to 1 1/2 times the original size.
     Step 8:  Place the baking pan in a 425ºF oven.
     Bake till the bread is fully cooked and it is a golden brown color.  (Try to remove the bread from the oven, before the garlic flecks turn black!)
     Step 9:  Place the pan on a cooling rack.
     Allow the garlic knots to cool to a safe serving temperature.
     Serve while warm.

     When baking, the garlic aroma will fill the air and guests will be eager for the Garlic Knots to be served!

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